The latest snapshot of high street and online activity from CBI’s barometer of retail activity has shown Britain’s retailers are planning to axe jobs and cut investment over the coming months as signs emerge of a deepening slump in spending by consumers.
The CBI’s barometer of retail activity had fallen for a fourth month in a row in August to stand at its lowest level since March 2021.
The employers’ organisation said retailers saw no let-up in the poor trading conditions over the coming months and were cutting back on orders with suppliers.
While a recent survey from the British Retail Consortium lobby group found retailers offering deep discounts to woo reluctant consumers, the CBI said there was only tentative evidence of prices coming down.
Indeed, retailers are asked every three months whether prices are rising or falling and in August a balance of +73 percentage points said they had risen.
That was slightly down on the +77 point balance recorded in May and the +80 points registered in February.
Rob Shaw, SVP Global Sales at Fluent Commerce: said, “It is clearly difficult for many retailers at the moment, and there’s no margin for error. Customers are increasingly willing to switch brands for the best price and the best experience – so retailers need to meet their expectations while having a keen eye on reducing the cost to serve.
“Retailers need to ensure they have great visibility into their stock so that they can meet customer demands and don’t over or under order. Reviewing the supply chain and correctly forecasting how much stock is needed, is key.
“Diversifying the use of physical stores – through offering click and collect options or ship from store – can be another way to increase its attraction to the consumer.
“At the end of the day, the economy always follows a cycle, and I do believe things will improve for retailers. In the meantime, it’s all about minimising costs, maximising profits and building customer loyalty.”